Happy Birthday to Us!

Posted April 7, 2011 in Feature Story

Five years ago, the first issue of Inland Empire Weekly hit the streets. Five years later, we’re still rockin‘ it even though everyone (read: haters) told us print’s days are doomed. As an homage or acknowledgement of the Weekly’s contribute to local culture, please enjoy the following ravings, reminiscences and ramblings from our editorial staff, past, present and un-accounted for. 



From Editor in Chief Roberto C. Hernandez

Putting out Inland Empire Weekly is no mean feat. There are dozens of assignments and deadlines and writers and photographers and publicists to keep track of. There’s a “cool factor” to uphold. There are standards of alt-journalism that must be maintained. Frankly, there are a million ways I can mess things up and cause the process to grind to a halt and prevent you, brave reader, from enjoying the most awesome (awesome-est?) paper around (sorry, P-E. Not sorry, Colton Courier).


After freelancing as a news writer for the Weekly (I came on board with years of experience as a daily newspaper reporter as well as an editor for a monthly music magazine) for the about two months, the opportunity came up for me to take up the helm and become editor in chief. I was nervous, while a fan of other altweeklies, I was pretty altweekly-illiterate.


I’m glad I took this job, cuz for the past two years it’s been the most exciting place to work. Everyday, I get a chance to discover something new or weird about this region; something fringe or thoroughly ridiculous. And it’s my job to present it to readers in an attractive package and use smoke and mirrors to convince them to read our stories and welcome us into their hearts. What are some of my milestones? During my first “Best of IE” issue, I learned my editorial deadline was one full day before the one I had been given. But I made it through that fiasco. The Inland Empire Music Awards—those were pretty kick-ass, too. Getting Kat von D, Snoop Dogg, Travis Pastrana, Travis Barker—stop me any time now, guys—on the cover? Yup, that’s pretty sweet. This job requires me to be resourceful, creative and push myself to my limits (or beyond them sometimes). And I feed on this.


Every Thursday, when the new issue streets, it’s like giving birth to a new child. So far, I’ve been lucky enough to do this 52 times without a hitch. And after two years, yes, it’s still cool as hell—when people ask me what I do or who I am—to say, “I’m the editor in chief for Inland Empire Weekly.” I’m having a blast. How’s your job treatin‘ ya?


From Managing Editor Lynn Lieu

The IE is my hometown. 


It’s where my favorite childhood swing set is; it’s where I took my first driving lesson and hit my first car; it’s where I earned my diploma and bachelors degree. It wasn’t where I’ve always wanted to end up but it’s where I am now. 


My first ever published editorial piece outside of high school journalism was in the Inland Empire Weekly, when then-editor Chuck Mindenhall took me on as an intern with barely any experience. It was 2007 and I was bright-eyed, still in college and looking for some kind of editorial experience. I had interned at the now defunct LA office of The Onion A.V. Club but haven’t written a printed word since 2004 when I graduated from Norte Vista High School. 


Since then, I’ve worked and written for a number of publications all over California–from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Orange County–but I always find myself back in the IE and writing for IE Weekly


It’s where I took my first steps in professional journalism and ultimately where my writing developed. From my first review of an art exhibit at Pitzer College to discovering an art space in David Leapman’s house to finding a cool burger joint in Redlands to meeting an activist senior couple at a local café, IE Weekly has taken me to new places, to meet new people and do new things all over the Inland Empire as I’m sure it has done for so many of you.

The IE is my hometown and IE Weekly only made it so much cooler.


From Calendar Editor Waleed Rashidi

It’s sometimes nice to admit you’re wrong.


I was the editor of another regional publication when I first heard an Inland Empire-specific altweekly would be hitting stands. Although I was living in the 909, the idea of such a paper distributed throughout the area seemed fruitless. Because, really, who in these parts would truly bother to support something that wasn’t one of your middle-of-the-road daily papers? 

I gave it a year to fizzle away, felt sorry for whoever was publishing it and left it at that. 


A year later, the IE Weekly was still alive. Not only that, but it read well, carved a solid niche in the community and was recruiting freelancers. A familiar name was at the helm—Rich Kane from OC Weekly—so I figured enlisting for journalistic duty wouldn’t be bad.


I quickly found contributing to the paper an exhilarating experience. Kane and his successor, Chuck Mindenhall, were absolute joys. Months later, Mindenhall asked if I could help with the paper’s Calendar section. Though I’d washed my hands of editing publications years earlier, I eventually accepted. This was supposed to be something I’d manage during my remaining months in grad school. By the end of the summer, I figured I’d be out the door. 


Well, that was supposed to be three end-of-the-summers ago. Instead, I’ve had the incredible fortune of writing about hundreds of local creative types (including my weekly “Band of the Week” bit), celebs (hi, Snoop!) and many more phenomenally word-worthy folks. Now helmed by longtime comrade, the estimable Roberto Hernandez, the IE Weekly has become a consistent home for many readers, an important alternative voice for a region—plus, it’s revived my passion for print media.


Fizzle away? I’m thrilled to say that nearly five years later, I was wrong.


From former Editor in Chief Chuck Mindenhall

When the publisher of IE Weekly, Jeremy Zachary, visited me in New York in the summer of 2005, he came with an unpopular yet totally obvious idea that he’d been cultivating: starting an alt-weekly in the Inland Empire. This seemed like a vast undertaking to me. The IE is a sprawl. I said, “I don’t even know where it begins and ends” (And, to this day, I can’t confidently say I do). It has very little connective tissue city-wise, I said, aside from being landlocked from Southern California’s better known appeals. The idea exhausted me, to be honest. All of that might be true, he said. But there are 6 million people in a circled area (which he showed me), and don’t you think those people would like to know about the culture going on around them? 

In other words—why shouldn’t we try and be the connective tissue? 

Of course, he’d learned to be optimistic from his days working at OC Weekly, which during his time in the mid-1990s and early-2000s was the finest altweekly in Southern California. Even still, me being from LA Weekly (a naturally pessimistic environment), I passed it off at the time as an idea that would be too ambitious to get off the ground. Luckily, he didn’t.


As we hit the five-year anniversary of the IE Weekly, it’s a tribute to Jeremy Zachary to have backed up his intentions, and for seeing something where nobody else was looking. He launched IE Weekly a year later. Though I wasn’t yet involved officially, I remember we struck out swinging trying to get Travis Barker on the inaugural cover. Since then, we’ve had a who’s who on the cover, so you can infer whose loss it was.


The first editorial chief, Stacy Davies did a tremendous job setting the direction and standard for subsequent editors and staff—from Rich Kane and current editor, Roberto Hernandez, to myself, who edited the paper from August 2007 until May 2009. The idea of being an alternative voice wasn’t novel—to be an alternative voice for a range of diverse communities was. It’s a challenge we’ve gladly tackled. 


In the five years since, each one of us in the IE Weekly have done our damndest to cover the arts, the news, the off-kilter, the kilter, the absurd, the serious, music, books, film, dance, theater, education, food, health and culture. We have tried to uphold a high editorial standard through the process. We have done so bullishly, we have done so leisurely. We have failed several times, and succeeded many more. You have told us you loved us, and that you’ve hated us. This is progress. And to all of you who wrote in wondering why Oompa Loompas were on the “Best Of” issue in 2008, I say the same thing that Jeremy Zachary said to me when the paper was just a lofty idea out there on the range . . . why the hell not?


Hopefully you have gotten as much out of the paper as we have went to pains to deliver. The first issue was titled, “A New Day in the IE.” At the five-year mark, I would like to say it’s a “Happy Day in the IE” as well. And for myself and the other editorial staff that have helped get it there, a proud one.


From former Managing and Editor in Chief Rich Kane

What stands out most in my head from Inland Empire Weekly’s first year of life? Was it our first intern, who discovered all the beer left over from our debut party at Fender Music and proceeded to get sloshed as he made fact-checking calls? Was it the drive that editor Stacy Davies and I took out to the secret Scientology compound near Hemet, with wide-eyed visions of glimpsing Tom Cruise commuting via UFO? Was it all the swell local bands I got to hear, and then put on our local music comp CD? Was it all the great stories we ran by the kick-ass journalist David Silva? Was it making fun of the Riverside Mess-Enterprise, the San Bernardino Sunk and a slew of other easy-to-make-fun-of local media? Was it interviewing such fabulous local music celebs as the Skeletones, Alien Ant Farm and (gasp!) Sammy Hagar? 

All of that is good. But one thing I’ll unfortunately never forget is the fact that we misspelled the word “anniversary’ on the frickin‘ cover of our first anniversary issue. At least four people saw that cover before it went to press, but no one managed to catch it . . . sigh . . . Roberto: DON’T forget to check and re-check and re-re-re-check this issue’s cover . . . 





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